Fallujah assault: Soldiers keep dying

Eighteen US troops and five Iraqi soldiers have lost their lives during the assault on &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/accidents/ 21/93/375/13145_Fallujah.html ' target=_blank>Fallujah, the US command reported Thursday. 178 American and 34 Iraqi soldiers wounded.

The U.S. military announced the figures as commanders in Fallujah estimated that some 600 insurgents have been killed in the offensive, which began Monday night. The commanders cautioned that the number was a rough estimate.

Maj. Gen. Richard Natonski, commander of the 1st &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/usa/2002/11/23/39879.html ' target=_blank>Marine Division, said the operation was "ahead of schedule" and he saluted "the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines and our Iraq comrades" taking part in the fight, wrote Miami Herald.

Maj. Gen. Natonski also said he had visited a "slaughter house" in the northern Jolan neighbourhood where hostages were held and possibly killed by militants.

Intelligence personnel are investigating the site, he said.

He described a small room with no windows and just one door. Inside were two thin mattresses, straw mats covered in blood, he said.

There was also a computer, computer disks, and a wheelchair where "we believe (captives) were bound and moved around in", reports News.com

There are some 10,000 &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/war/2003/04/02/45463.html' target=_blank>American troops involved in the now-four-day-old assault. Another 3,000 Iraqi forces have joined them in the fight to oust insurgents from Fallujah.

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